Screen­ing change on right foot

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS -

NEW­BORN ba­bies could be tested for a range of new ill­nesses af­ter a na­tion­wide re­view of screen­ing prac­tices.

Days-old ba­bies are cur­rently screened for about 25 rare con­di­tions, us­ing a sam­ple of blood from their heel.

But now the “heel prick test” is un­der­go­ing its own ex­am­i­na­tion, with health of­fi­cials de­bat­ing how – and whether – other dis­eases should be in­cluded.

The list of treat­able con­di­tions screened for in Aus­tralian ma­ter­nity hos­pi­tals has not changed in more than a decade.

The New­born Blood­spot Screen­ing Work­ing Group be­gan re­view­ing how ill­nesses were as­sessed for the screen­ing pro­gram last year, and will re­port in mid-2016.

Selina Met­ter­nick-Jones, who will dis­cuss the re­view at a ge­net­ics con­fer­ence to­mor­row, said the num­ber of con­di­tions ba­bies were tested for would not nec­es­sar­ily in­crease, but one of the main aims was to en­sure test­ing kept pace with tech­nol­ogy.

The work­ing group was orig­i­nally formed af­ter the Hu­man Ge­net­ics So­ci­ety of Aus­trala­sia iden­ti­fied “an ur­gent need” for a more stream­lined ap­proach to eval­u­at­ing po­ten­tial new tests.

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